This panel will engage in dialogue about what constitutes Mexico as a distinctive country and culture, through the daily practice of three guests from Mexico who were not born in Mexico but define in their professional, political and academic practice different ideas about the country, for example what constitutes real democratic change, cultural heritage and gay cultural history in Mexico.
Moderated by Nayar Rivera. PhD fellow in the Comparative Literature program at The Graduate Center
John M. Ackerman is one of Mexico’s leading public intellectuals, writing bi-weekly columns at both the daily La Jornada and Proceso magazine. He also writes frequently on Latin American politics for the international press, including Los Angeles Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Suddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Nation and The Atlantic. He is a Professor at the Institute for Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and has published numerous books and scholarly articles in English, Spanish and French on the Mexican political system.
Ackerman is also Editor-in-Chief of the Mexican Law Review, Vice President of the International Association of Administrative Law and has served as a Visiting Scholar at American University in Washington, D.C and at Sorbonne (Paris III) and Sciences Po in Paris, France. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz as well as a Ph.D. in Law from UNAM and a B.A. in Philosophy from Swarthmore College.
Diana Kennedy has received many important accolades and awards as author of books of Mexican native cuisines, a labor inextricably linked with a passion for research that has led her to visit, many times on precarious conditions, the markets and homes that treasure endemic species and traditional cooking techniques of Mexico. When Kennedy arrived in 1957 from the United Kingdom, she noticed that ingredients and traditional recipes were being lost to the migration of Mexican farmers to more urban, industrial livelihoods. She began documenting everything she found in villages, markets, and homes across the country, compelled by a fascination with Mexico’s rich culinary tapestry. Over the course of nearly sixty years, Diana traversed the country, meticulously researching, documenting, and mastering the culinary styles of each region. Now, these traditions are collectively designated as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
In the greenhouse and gardens of her ecological house, Quinta Diana, Kennedy grows edible plants and fruits that have been catalogued by The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) in Mexico. She received The Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government, the highest Mexican order awarded to foreigners in the country. She is a Member of the Order of the British Empire for strengthening cultural ties between Mexico and the United Kingdom. Diana is also a 2014 inductee into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame. Her cookbooks include “The Cuisines of Mexico” (1972), “The Tortilla Book,” (1975), “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico” (2000), “From my Mexican Kitchen,Techniques and Ingredients,” (2003), “Oaxaca, An Infinite Gastronomy,” (2010)
Michael Schuessler is Professor of Humanities at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Cuajimalpa, in Mexico City, where he teaches courses dedicated to Latin American art and literature, pre-Columbian Mexico, colonial Mexico, etc. He received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specialized in the literature and arts of colonial Latin America. He is the author of many articles devoted to the interpretation of Latin American literature and culture as well as several books: “Elena Poniatowska: An Intimate Portrait” (University of Arizona Press, 2007), “Foundational Arts: Mural Painting and Missionary Painting in New Spain” (University of Arizona Press, 2013). In 2006, University of Texas Press published his edition of Alma Reed’s autobiography, entitled “Peregrina: Love and Death in Mexico.” In 2010 he published a collaborative volume on gay culture in Mexico -the first of its kind- entitled “México se escribe con jota: una historia de la cultura gay” (Editorial Planeta).
This event is made possible thanks to the support of National Fund for the Arts ( FONCA), the Doctoral Students’ Council, the Comparative Literature and the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages departments at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Additional support by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, and The Postcolonial Studies Group.